Claire Glavey’s Experience
The most rewarding aspect of the role for me was getting the opportunity to work with so many people who are passionate about making a positive change in the world – the volunteers, the other coordinators, Suas staff and the partner organisations. It’s hard to try to explain how much I learned from being a coordinator, and I have the feeling it will take another while to fully comprehend how much I’ve taken from the programme. I’ve seen just how much you can achieve and how much you learn about yourself and the world when you take the time to try to understand another person, another perspective or another culture.
The coordinator role has given me greater confidence in my ability to contribute to equality and positive change in the world, and has given me a greater belief in my ability to cope with new and challenging situations. The coordinator role is a challenging one, and it will almost definitely challenge you in ways you won’t anticipate, no matter how much preparation you do! But it is also a unique opportunity to work with an inspirational group of people (volunteers, coordinators, partners, teachers and children) who will help you to develop a new perspective on the world and your place in it.
Nick Ledbetter’s Experience
My team of 11 volunteers were an awesome and inspiring group. The great challenge is trying to offer each team member the same level of support and interest. The best bits were the simple things like the buzz in the house as everyone came home on a high exchanging stories about what had happened at school and their plans for the next day. As a leader you feel pride in being central to orchestrating this ‘can-do’ attitude. The camaraderie between 12 people living in close proximity cannot be overestimated, I recall many an evening rolling around the floor laughing!
It was a pleasure to work with Suas’ partner Sabuj Sangha. The bond created by the volunteers and their respective teachers despite huge language barriers was very helpful. I consulted with my point of contact on a daily basis and, despite cultural barriers, fostered an excellent working relationship.
As a Coordinator, I set out to learn about myself, India and what I wanted to do with my life post professional qualification. While all these have not been answered, the 3 months in India were perhaps the most intensive learning period of my life. There were many mini-crises during the summer and my response to these and success in remaining calm in adverse circumstances was something which I have no doubt will stand to me into the future. I’d recommend the Coordinator role wholeheartedly. It is difficult to avoid clichés when trying to sum the role up but I’ll try; stressful, inspiring and the most fantastic perspective changer.
Cathy Howlett’s Experience
Sitting here in the 40 degree heat with the sound of children’s laughter drifting towards me on the light breeze, Ireland really could not feel further away. The view from the balcony belongs in a Kipling story, the lush greens and the dense waters inviting awe. Inside, Team Sundarbans sit around the table drawing and laminating, exchanging anecdotes from their schools and revisiting old nursery rhymes long-since forgotten. A Muppets jigsaw lies unmade on the floor, Irish flags wave from the window. Markers litter the table and wet clothes of jewelled reds and emerald greens hang from every stationary post. The melodic tones of Don McClean provide the soundtrack in our room, struggling to compete with the tinny notes of the Hindi music snaking its way towards us from the nearby village.
The coordinators are here to revel in the triumphs, comfort in the defeats and share the highs and lows that make the Volunteer Programme what it is. We were picked as leaders because of our experience and knowledge but sitting here in the middle of these eight extraordinary young people I feel quite sure that I will learn more than I will ever teach and receive more than I could ever possibly hope to give.
The journey that we are on together is sure to change each and every one of us in some way – however subtle it may be. At this moment the VP canvas is blank, waiting for each volunteer and coordinator to add their own little touch of colour. I for one can’t wait to see the vibrant tapestry that we create together.